Monday, December 24, 2012

Proving the Resurrection

Proving the Resurrection

After reading another article by a Christian apologist trying to prove with words the reality of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, I could not refrain from doing my part, once again, to warn God’s people not to trust in such vain words.  Wise faith, Paul said, is in the power of God, not in the persuasive eloquence of men (1Cor. 2:4-5).  

I know that the resurrection of Christ Jesus took place, and how we thank God for that blessed resurrection!  But Christian apologists’ arguments for the resurrection almost always fall flat because their arguments point no one to the only thing in the universe which actually proves that the resurrection was real.  Let me use a statement from a recent article in which one Christian minister was trying to talk people into believing in the resurrection.  After a lengthy discussion, he wrote, "The most persuasive evidence for the resurrection is the transformed lives of the disciples."  That is not the case.  It was not their transformed lives, but the thing that transformed them which is the proof of Jesus’ resurrection.  To the Sanhedrin, Peter said of Jesus, "We are His witnesses, and so is the holy spirit, which God gives to all who obey Him."  Now, Peter and the rest of the apostles are long dead, but the holy Spirit is still here, still available to all who obey God and believe in His Son.  Peter and the rest of the apostles were wonderful witnesses to their generation, but the holy Spirit they possessed in their souls is still here!  It is God’s testimony to every generation of His Son.

It is virtually always the case that when they set about to convince people of the resurrection of Christ, Christian ministers fail to acknowledge “the witness God gave of His Son".  I am convinced that, in most cases, they do not mention God’s holy witness because they have not yet received it.  If instead of sermonizing about the resurrection, those ministers would simply humble themselves to receive “the witness that God gave of His Son”, they could leave off the unconvincing talk about empty tombs and ancient literary references, and become witnesses themselves, through the power of the holy spirit – which was God’s original intent when He sent His Spirit.  Those with the baptism of the Spirit are God’s witnesses of his Son, and there cannot be, in each succeeding generation, any better testimony to Christ than the Spirit living and testifying, in power and purity, that Christ Jesus is alive.

The article I recently read correctly quoted Paul as saying that without the resurrection, there was no hope, and no saving faith.  But the truth which impelled Paul to make such a statement is that the resurrection of Christ accomplished something unprecedented and revolutionary, for it resulted in the outpouring of God’s kind of life, His eternal, holy kind of life, on the day of Pentecost, about fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion.  Peter said it best in his first sermon after being “born again” on the day of Pentecost, when God’s life was causing Peter and Jesus’ other followers to stagger like drunk men and to speak of God’s glory in languages they had not learned (Acts 2:22-4, 32-33):

“Men of Israel!  Listen to these words!  Jesus the Nazarene, a man from God, was attested to you by miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, as you yourselves certainly know.  You took this man, who was turned over to you by the fixed purpose and foreknowledge of God, and killed him with wicked hands, nailing him to a cross, but God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to be held by it. . . .  This Jesus, God has raised up, of which we all are witnesses.  So then, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the holy spirit, he has shed forth this, which you yourselves now see and hear.”
Without the power of God in your life, not only are you not a witness of Christ, but you do not really know whether Jesus was resurrected or not.  How can you know that Christ is resurrected without receiving God’s witness of it?  Men can declare it, but men can lie.  God, who cannot lie, offers His own testimony: the baptism of the holy Spirit.  You may believe in the resurrection strongly; you may be educated enough to make a good case for it; you may even be willing to die for that belief.  But you cannot know the resurrection really took place until you participate in it by the Spirit.  Only those who have received what Jesus died and rose for know, for sure, that it ever really happened.  As Paul said, “No man can say [and know that he is telling the truth] that Jesus is Lord except by the holy ghost” (1Cor 12:3).